MEN'S HOCKEY: Bitzer’s shutout propels BSU to sweep

BEMIDJI -- Michael Bitzer's 20-save shutout paved the way for the Bemidji State men's hockey team's first sweep of the season, blanking Alaska Anchorage 4-0 Saturday night at the Sanford Center.

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BSU senior goalie Michael Bitzer (1) stops the puck in the second period against Alaska-Anchorage Saturday at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- Michael Bitzer’s 20-save shutout paved the way for the Bemidji State men’s hockey team’s first sweep of the season, blanking Alaska Anchorage 4-0 Saturday night at the Sanford Center.

The senior netminder recorded his third shutout of the season and the 19th of his career to send the Beavers (7-6-5, 4-4-4-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) into the holiday break by taking all six league points on the weekend.

Myles Fitzgerald scored his third goal of the weekend late in the second before three third-period goals, including two on the power play, put the game out of hand for the Seawolves (1-13-4, 1-8-3-3 WCHA).

“It was a big weekend for us, especially the third period tonight,” Bitzer said. “We had to come out big in the third and we wanted to prove that we know what it takes to win games, and I think it showed in the third.”

Following a scoreless first period, Kyle Bauman and Myles Fitzgerald went on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush late in the second. The puck trickled in off Fitzgerald’s stick after Bauman’s initial shot attempt was knocked down by goalie Olivier Mantha, putting the Beavers up 1-0 entering the final 20 minutes.


Early in the third, a name that appeared often on the statsheet this weekend gave the Beavers some cushion.

Jay Dickman, who netted a hat trick Friday, kept up the pace by tallying his fourth goal of the series with his power-play strike at 3:48 of the frame. The junior buried a rebound for his team-leading 10th goal of the year.

“He’s very good in front of the net,” said BSU head coach Tom Serratore on Dickman’s net-front prowess. “He’s got good hands, he’s got good hockey sense. He gets his stick on a lot of pucks right there in front of the cage. That’s where he’s very dangerous.”

Dickman and linemate Myles Fitzgerald combined for seven goals on the weekend, while fellow second-liner Bauman notched five assists.

“That line’s really got some good chemistry right now with Kyle, (Dickman) and Myles,” Serratore said. “I think they really compliment each other well.”

The second power-play goal of the evening, off the crossbar and in by Brendan Harris, increased the lead to 3-0 near the midway point in the period. Charlie Combs made it 4-0 minutes later to put the finishing touches on the Beavers’ first sweep.

Bemidji State will have an extra week to prepare for its final series of 2017 against Alabama Huntsville Dec. 29-30 at the Sanford Center. The Beavers will enter the WCHA series unbeaten in their last five league games.

“We’re playing good hockey,” Serratore said. “We’re 2-0-3 in our last five, but you lose a couple bonus-point games to Northern (Michigan) last weekend, it feels like you lost. But we didn’t. We played good hockey last weekend. We’ve played well enough in my eyes to be 5-0 in our last five games and we’re 2-0-3. Sometimes that’s just the way the puck bounces.”


The Beavers will spend the bulk of their second half on the road, proving how valuable this sweep is to the team.

“We needed these six points,” Serratore said. “You take a look at our schedule down the road, our January, we’re just going to be road warriors. You (have to) make hay at home and it’s nice to get the six points this weekend.”

Bemidji State 4, Alaska Anchorage 0

UAA 0 0 0 -- 0

BSU 0 1 3 -- 4

First period -- No scoring.

Second period -- 1, BSU, M. Fitzgerald (Bauman, Brady), 18:27.

Third period -- 2, BSU, Dickman (G. Fitzgerald, Brady), 3:48, PP; 3, BSU, Harris (Miller, Baudry), 9:55; 4, Combs (G. Fitzgerald, Janco), 14:01.


Goaltending -- BSU, Bitzer (20-20); UAA, Mantha (37-33).

Austin Monteith is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of Bloomington, Ill., he is a 2015 graduate of Butler University. Follow him on Twitter at @amonteith92. Contact the Pioneer sports department at
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